Mixed Martial Arts returned to TV screens on Saturday night with UFC 249. The event was previously scheduled for April 18 but had been moved due to the COVID-19 pandemic. President Donald Trump was among those that tuned in for the pay-per-view, and he had praise for Dana White prior to its start.
"I want to congratulate Dana White and the UFC," Trump said in a video. "They're going to have a big match. We love it. We think it's important. Get the sports leagues back. Let's play. You do the social distancing and whatever else you have to do. But we need sports. We want our sports back. And, congratulations to Dana White, UFC."
There have been many questions about whether or not sports would able to return in the near future due to the coronavirus. This was addressed during an April 4 conference call that Trump held with commissioners from multiple leagues. He reportedly spoke about the potential return of sports and how the leagues would address fan attendance and other health and safety concerns. White took part in this call, along with the WWE's Vince McMahon, MLB's Rob Manfred and the NFL's Roger Goodell.
The NFL still plans on holding its entire 2020 season starting in September, but the NBA and MLB are still examining the different options for resuming the seasons. There have been several discussions about holding games in central locations that have been cleared by health officials.
NASCAR, on the other hand, will be resuming the 2020 Cup Series season on May 17. The governing body announced that there would be seven races held in the span of 11 days, all of which would take place at either Darlington Raceway or Charlotte Motor Speedway. Both tracks can be easily reached by the race teams and would not require staying in hotels.
Similar to the UFC, NASCAR will not be allowing fans to attend the upcoming races. There will also be limited numbers of team personnel allowed on site. Banning fans from arenas and tracks around the country has been viewed as a critical factor in facilitating the return of sports, but Trump has said that he hopes they can return when the New York Yankees eventually being the season.
"I saw baseball is doing something unusual," Trump said during a press briefing on April 29. "I don't know if I agree with it. I would like to see the Yankees play at Yankee Stadium. I see they have some ideas for baseball that are very different. I guess I'm a traditionalist, but I think they'd be able to play at Yankee Stadium with, obviously, smaller crowds and then the crowds would start to build as things get a little bit better."